Move-It Monday~Yoga Pose: Up Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana )

Difficulty level: Easy


  • Strengthens the wrists, arms, and back
  • Opens the shoulders, chest and abdomen
  • Stimulates the abdominal organs
  • Improves posture

When working with beginning yoga students, there is a lot of confusion around Up Dog and Cobra Pose.  Both are beginning backbends, and both are often offered nestled in a Sun Salutation.  I like to create sequences that begin with Cobra Pose to wake up the back, then substitute Up Dog to increase the intensity of effort and backbend.

Begin in Down Dog .  Exhale and move into Plank Pose.  On your next exhale lower your body to the floor in a prone position.  Stretch your legs long on the floor, pressing your inner legs close together and your toenails into the floor.  Place the palms of your hands on the floor between your shoulders and your waistband so that your elbows line up over your wrists.  Inhale, roll your shoulders onto your back and, as you begin to straighten your arms lifting your upper body off the floor, pull your chest forward of your wrists and up.  Focus on pulling the front body forward lengthening the spine away from the hips, then rising.  Your shoulders should be slightly forward of your wrists.  Press the shoulders away from the ears as you roll the shoulder blades firmly down your back, lift your gaze, and draw your ears back moving them over your shoulders.  Press your toenails firmly into the floor, firm your buttocks and press the inside edges of the legs together to lift the upper legs off the floor.  Hold this pose for 2 – 3 breaths.

To exit the pose, tuck your toes, exhale and press back and up to Down Dog.


To practice this pose, place a bolster or rolled blanket under your upper thighs on the floor.  Then move into the pose, allowing the prop to assist in the lift of the thighs off the floor while reducing any potential strain on the low back.

Looking for a yoga sequence you can incorporate into your daily routine?  Check out Refresh, Renew, Reset~A 7-Day Jumpstart For Mind and Body.  I created this nutrition protocol with daily yoga and meditation to assist you in jumping into (or back into) your healthy lifestyle!